When the beach isn’t an optionFun for all ages at Korea’s water parks
Maybe swimming pools seem too mundane to you. And the ocean is too far away.
A water park might be a good alternative. Here, the grown-ups can relax in spas while children play on water rides and in pools that have been designed for their height.
There’s something for every family member at most of these parks. And most of them have both indoor and outdoor facilities, so people can visit them on rainy days. Here’s a roundup of some of the better ones you’ll find in Korea.
With a view of Ulsanbawi Rock, one of Mount Seorak’s famous attractions, visitors can enjoy various facilities here, including natural hot springs from the mountain. Indoor facilities include a wave pool, steam pools and 100-meter-long slides. The outdoor facilities, taking up 5,000 pyeong (4 acres), offer various spas along the valley, such as a “couple spa.” Admission is 36,000 won ($25) for adults, 26,000 won for children.
To get to Waterpia from Seoul, take the Gyeongbu Expressway, exit at Shingal Interchange, then go to Hobub Interchange. From there, take the Yeongdong Highway, exit at Hyeonnam Interchange and go to National Road 7. Head for Yangyang, then Sokcho, and exit at Seorak. The trip takes approximately three and a half hours. For more information, call (033) 635-7711 or visit www.sorakwaterpia.com.
Cheonan Sangnok Aquapia
Korea’s largest indoor water park at 3,500 pyeong, Aquapia’s facilities include a 12-meter-high slide, a “flow rider” (for those who enjoy surfing) and a flowing stream pool, which, with its fast current and water pouring down from above, might make visitors feel like they’re rafting. Aquapia offers 100 hotel rooms and 48 youth hostel rooms. A double-occupancy hotel room or a four-person youth hostel room costs 93,000 won. Admission to Aquapia is 29,000 won for adults, 26,000 won for children.
By train, from Seoul Station or Yeongdeungpo Station, it takes approximately an hour to get to Cheonan Station. You can also take a bus to Cheonan Station from Gangnam Terminal. For more information, call (041) 560-9051 or visit www.sangnokresort.co.kr.
Asan Spavis was the first spa in Korea to promote the idea of using water as a medical remedy. The spas here, which have a variety of functions, are all maintained at 34 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit), slightly below body temperature; this is said to help users feel less fatigued. Visitors can receive a variety of massages, use special “neck showers” and relax in bubble baths. Doctors are available at the facility who can examine visitors and advise them on how best to use the facilities. Asan Spavis is currently offering packages that include double hotel rooms for 100,000 won within the Asan hot springs district, and hotel rooms for 140,000 won at Pyeongtaek’s Star Hotel.
Take Gyeongbu Expressway and exit at Cheonan Interchange. Drive to Cheonan Stadium, pass Eungbong, and you will see Asan Spavis. For more information, call (041) 539-2000, or visit www.spavis.co.kr.
Danyang Aquaworld offers a “floating course,” in which users can receive a water-pressure massage while floating in water. Other courses offer bench jets and neck showers to ease the muscles. Indoors, where the interior is in Mediterranean style, there are three water slides and three pools of different depths. Admission is 22,000 won for adults and 16,000 won for children. Packages for 213,000 won include a visit to the spa and a double-occupancy room at Daemyung Condo.
Take the Gyeongbu Expressway and exit at Shingal Interchange; then enter the Yeongdong Expressway and exit at Manjong Interchange. From there, take the Jungang Expressway and get off at Bukdanyang Interchange to arrive at Danyang Condo. For more information, call (043) 420-8311, or visit www.daemyungcondo.com.
Ichon Spaplus has the nation’s largest water slide: the Aqua Tube, five stories high and 140 meters long. Outdoor facilities include a swimming pool, a 110-meter floating pool and wave pool with waves of up to two meters. The spas include a fruit spa, a rice wine spa, a mud spa and a coffee spa. Entrance fee on weekdays is 27,000 won for adults, 18,000 won for children. On weekends, the fee is 31,500 won for adults, 22,500 won for children. From Seoul, take Gyeongbu Expressway and exit at Seoicheon Interchange. Follow Industrial Road for five minutes until you arrive at Hotel Miranda. For more information, call (031) 633-2001, or visit www.mirandahotel.com/spaplus/.
Yongin Caribbean Bay
An enormous park at 35,000 pyeong, Caribbean Bay, next to Everland amusement park, contains 18 outdoor and 12 indoor facilities. The wave pool, the “adventure pool” (which includes a waterfall) and a 28-meter-high water bobsleigh course are the must-dos, according to management. Admission is 60,000 won for adults, 45,000 won for children; it’s 15 percent less when entering after 2:30 p.m.
Take Gyeongbu Expressway, exit at Singal Interchange and take Yeongdong Expressway (for Wonju and Gangneung), and exit onto Maseong Highway to arrive at Everland. For more information, call (031) 320-5000 or visit http://eng.everland.com/Er/htm/Er_Cb.htm.
Changnyung Bugok Hawaii
The best water park in the southern part of the country, Bugok Hawaii covers 12,000 pyeong, which includes spas (try the Sulfur Spa) and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. The water park has a 15-meter-high slide, a 10-meter-high diving pool and a 900-pyeong wave pool.
The Jungle Spa has a large aquarium, big natural rocks and tropical plants. Admission is 15,000 won for adults, 12,000 won for children; outdoor spas charge an extra 3,000 won.
Take the Gyeongbu Expressway and exit at the Daegu/Geumho Interchange. Then take the Guma Expressway, go through the Hyeonpung/Changnyeong Interchange, enter Yongsan/Bugok Interchange and arrive at Bugok Hawaii. For more information, call (055) 536-6331, or visit www.bugokhawaii.co.kr.
Little urban oases (just try to get there first)
If you live in the country and you want to cool off, you can just jump in the river (depending on the river, of course). If you’re a kid, you can probably do so completely naked if you want to.
But if you are an adult living in the city, such skinny-dipping is only a dream (and swimming in the Han River, it’s safe to say, is a bad idea whatever your age). The next best bet for beating the heat might be one of Seoul’s outdoor pools. Just remember to keep your trunks on.
Along the Han
There are seven outdoor pools near the Han River. The pools in the Ichon and Gwangnaru districts are more suited to families, because they also have smaller pools for children. The outdoor pool in Jamwon district has drawn rave reviews for its water quality. You might want to think twice before visiting between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., however. The crush of swimmers during these hours causes traffic jams on the Olympic Expressway.
It’s even busier downriver at the Ttukseom and Yeouido pools. At Ttukseom, you can enjoy a whole wave of water sports on the adjacent Han River, like waterskiing, motor-boating and windsurfing.
The fee is 4,000 won ($3) for adults to enter the pool area; beach umbrellas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Lap of luxury
Back in the ’80s, the coolest swimming pool in town was definitely the Namsan Tower Hotel swimming pool. Even now, the Tower Hotel is the only five-star hotel to open its swimming pool to the general public. Since you’re allowed to bring food from home, it’s popular with families. Open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission during the week is 13,000 won for adults, 7,000 won for children. Call (02) 2250-9341.
The Seoul Walkerhill Hotel has the largest swimming pool among its peers. This pool is also open to the general public, but you can’t bring food. Admission is a staggering 45,000 won for adults and 31,000 won for children, but that includes a hotel buffet lunch. Open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (02) 450-4635.
Don’t forget to bring your swimming suit to the amusement park this summer. Seoul Land, in Gwacheon, has plenty of opportunities for families to play in the water. The pools are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission (to the pools only) is 14,000 won for adults, 10,000 won for children. If you have a free pass to the park, the pool costs 2,500 won for both adults and children. Call (02) 504-0011.
The Bearstown outdoor pool is famed for its “clear water,” which comes from Mount Jugeum. Within the pool area you can have a picnic under the pine trees. Admission for adults is 6,000 won, for children 4,000 won. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Beginning August 9, the pool closes at 6 p.m. Call (031) 540-5000.
Building sand castles in the heart of the city
“Look, Dad ― the sand here is so fine! Wow, there are shells too!”
Six-year-old Jung Yoo-min wasn’t the only person having fun tiptoeing on the hot sand at Yeouido on a recent Saturday.
On a day when the temperatures reached 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit), about 2,000 people were enjoying this new, 1,550-square-meter beach near an outdoor swimming pool.
It’s one of six new sunbathing beaches along the Han River that opened July 1. The city built them over the winter using fine sand brought in from the southern coast of the peninsula.
Similar beaches were also created in Jamsil, Jamwon, Ttukseom, Yangwha and Mangwon. The beaches are equipped with showers and dressing rooms; umbrellas and tanning benches are available.
“I like it because I feel like I came to the sea,” said Kim Na-el, an elementary school student sunbathing with his friends at Yeouido. “Next time, I would like to come here with my girlfriend.”
On this recent Saturday, seven art majors from Sungshin Women’s University spent four hours working on an enormous sand sculpture, shoveling, watering and pressing sand.
The result was seven meters long and three meters wide; the students dubbed it “The Mermaid Lying at the Beach.”
“We used to have to go all the way to the Yellow Sea to do sand sculpting, but now we can do it here in Seoul,” said Kim Myeong-ju, who led the project.
A Hangang Park staffer said beaches along the Seine River in Paris served as the model for the project. The official said there are plans to use the beaches to host fashion shows, beach volleyball competitions and other events.
The beaches will be open until the end of August. Admission to the beaches is free.
by Choi Hyeon-chul